Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Caught Between Bukhara and Samarkand...

A Bactrian Camel in the Kyzyl Kum desert, Uzbekistan.  I'm sure you're booking flights right now. Image online here

There I was in the Kyzyl Kum Desert, in Uzbekistan, leading a well-behaved Bactrian Camel... anywhere. It was pure desolation, essentially featureless in every direction; a beige version of Mars. Some dream; just me, a camel, untolled rocks, some sand and a cloudless sky.   

What motivated me to make lemonade from this lemon tree of a situation was thinking of all the birds I would be adding to my lifelist. Unfortunately, since I have no familiarity with this region, my fantasies ran a bit afield: coursers, bustards, stone-chats, sandgrouse, rollers, stone-curlews and even Ostrich crossed my mind.  But, that's why they call them dreams.

Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex)
Image online here

Purple Sunbird (Cinnyris asiaticus) - male
Image online here

Early on a small flock of doves flew by.  Sadly, they were too distant for any hope of an ID.  Soon after a small oasis appeared on the horizon, and we made it there with dream-speed. There the bird life was excessively cosmopolitan.  A Shoebill waded along the opposite side of the spring-fed pond. A handsome male Purple Sunbird busily worked a date palm to our left.  Neither belonged in this part of the world, but the latter is at least found on this continent.  One bird I did get right was a Eurasian Roller atop another palm.

Eurasian Roller (Coracius garrulus)
Image online here

Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Pterocles orientalis)
Image online here

Soon after departing the oasis, I spotted a few birds I was anticipating.  A handful of Black-bellied Sandgrouse crouched amidst rocks and grass tufts within yards of our path.  A very active Eurasian Stone-curlew picked at the ground some way further on.  A sparrow that initially reminded me of a Savannah, flushed from a rock outcrop and settled low in a small bush. In this part of the world, this would be a Rock Sparrow/Petronia.  Aptly named.

Eurasian Stone-curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus)
Image online here

Rock Petronia (Petronia petronia)
Image online here

I then happened upon a small caravan of men and their camels. They ask where I'm going, and I tell them the Caspian Sea. This amuses them, as they inform me I'm heading very much in the wrong direction. They offer to help accompany me to a place where I can catch a different road that will take me towards my destination. They continued to rib me saying that if I don't go with them I'll surly get lost and die in this wasteland. So, even here everybody does want to be a comedian.

Common/Ring-necked Pheseant (Phasianus colchicus) - male
Image online here

We rode our camels together for some time, until we eventually came upon a small village adjacent to a much larger oasis. As we rode through town, I saw women in black or white burqas, many unidentifiable fowl scurrying about, and a small market. In the market a live Common Pheasant was for sale. At the very end of the market someone had a cage with a Common Nightingale in it, melodically singing away. The dream ended as I was looking over at the larger oasis with much anticipation. Unfortunately, I awakened before I could check it out.

Common/Rufous Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos)
Image online here

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello! Can I use this photo of the nightingale for a musical project (Poster, porgrams, CD-Cover, website)?
Thanks in advance,


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